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Tuesday, 7 December 1965

Mr McMAHON - I could well ask whether the Leader of the Opposition was ill-informed or badly informed when he asked his question. However, I refrain from impertinence and I refrain from posing the question. I think the suggestion that 80 per cent, of employees on the Australian waterfront will become redundant because of automation or because of the use of container ships on the coast is fantastic. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority has looked at this problem. We in the Department have also given this matter the closest possible attention. I point out that the Waterside Workers Federation and the Australian Council of Trade Unions have asked the all-in conference to deal with the problem of mechanisation and its effect on the waterfront. I do not fear the effects of automation. I believe it brings great benefits to workers, but I also believe that, if we take the kind of attitude that has been adopted by the Menzies Government ever since it took office, no harm can come to us by rapid mechanisation and automation. Its policy has always been one of looking ahead and always trying to ensure that if mechanical methods are introduced they will be introduced for the benefit of the working men.

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